The Changing Nature of Employment-Related Sexual Harassment: Evidence from the U.S. Federal Government, 1978-1994

Posted: 13 Apr 2004

See all articles by Heather Antecol

Heather Antecol

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

School of Economics, University of Sydney; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

This paper examines the changing nature of attitudes toward and reports of sexual harassment using data for 1978-94 drawn from the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (USMSPB) of the U.S. federal government. The authors find that although unwanted sexual behavior reported by federal government employees changed only slightly in overall incidence over the period, its pattern changed noticeably. Unwanted sexual attention by supervisors, for example, declined in incidence; crude and offensive behavior by co-workers increased; and the likelihood that harassment would occur only once (rather than repeatedly) increased. Employees' attitudes toward sexual harassment changed markedly, with a dramatically increased willingness to define unwanted sexual behavior as sexual harassment. This trend appears to have been due not to changes in employees' demographic, human capital, and job characteristics, but rather to structural changes in their views of what constitutes sexual harassment.

Keywords: sexual harassment, public-sector employment

JEL Classification: J16, J28

Suggested Citation

Antecol, Heather and Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., The Changing Nature of Employment-Related Sexual Harassment: Evidence from the U.S. Federal Government, 1978-1994. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 443-461. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=529104

Heather Antecol (Contact Author)

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

500 E. Ninth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

School of Economics, University of Sydney ( email )

606 Social Sciences Bldg. (A02)
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
61435061387 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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